Peru lets Southern Copper keep building $1.4bn Tia Maria mine

The Peruvian government confirmed on Wednesday it had given Southern Copper (NYSE: SCCO) permission to resume construction at its $1.4 billion Tia Maria project, in the southern Islay province of the Arequipa region.

The world’s fifth largest copper producer by output had to cancel work in August, after authorities suspended the construction licence to evaluate objections from residents and regional authorities related to where the plant would be built.

Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, has experienced several setbacks since it first announced its intention to develop Tía María in 2010.

The construction plan has been halted and readjusted twice, in 2011 and 2015, due to fierce opposition by locals who are worried about its environmental impacts and the possibility of an open-pit mine damaging crops and water supplies.

In July, residents of Valle del Tambo, the closest town to the Tía María site, staged weeks-long protests and carried out a general strike to express their rejection of the project. They were later joined by a number of regional unions.

Southern executives, however, are hopeful that the project will be developed by 2020. Once completed, the mine is expected to produce 120,000 tonnes of copper a year over an estimated 20-year lifespan.